I came away from Dan Gilroy's "Nightcrawler" with a new level of respect for Jake Gyllenhaal. He's been taking a lot of interesting chances lately, having already decorated his career with a string of notable filmmaker collaborations, but now he seems to really be pushing himself by exploring unique characters that might scare off most stars. The physical specificity of his "End of Watch" cop, the obsession of his "Prisoners" detective, and now, the blind ambition of his "Nightcrawler" psycho.
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VENICE — The 71st Venice Film Festival can hold its head high as having had its fair share of exceptional films in the 2014 Competition for Alexandre Desplat's jury to pick from. Going in, I was still kind of hoping for the Golden Lion for "Birdman," partly because it's excellent and partly because its excellence is spread across so many categories -- an amazing cast, especially Michael Keaton's lead turn, career-best direction from Alejandro G. Inarritu, cinematography that defies belief -- which would have made an all-rounder award feel fair. I also hoped for a big prize for "A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Contemplating Existence" and maybe nods for "In The Basement," "99 Homes" or "The Look Of Silence."
When I saw "Super" at the Toronto Film Festival's Midnight Madness presentation, I really liked it. I wrote an enthusiastic review for it. I'm not sure I would have predicted, though, that the director of that film would have the biggest movie of the year for 2014, though.
It is much easier for me to confidently predict that within the next few years, Jalmari Helander is going to be writing and directing giant Hollywood movies, and that he's going to be very, very good at it.
His first film, "Rare Exports," felt like the sort of movie that Joe Dante would have made in the 1980s, a film that takes this left-of-center approach to some high concept idea, a film that would have a passionate cult fan base. His new film, which premiered at tonight's Midnight Madness, is an action movie called "Big Game," and it feels more like the sort of movie that Steven Spielberg would have made in the 1980s, a film that aims right down the middle, a film that knocks that high concept right out of the park with style and clockwork precision.
When I reviewed "The Judge" last night, I talked about how one character in particular really rubbed the wrong way. In the film, Robert Downey Jr's character has a younger brother who is portrayed as "slow." I put that in quotes because the film goes out of its way to avoid ever naming what's wrong with him, and it's that movie thing where they're afraid to offend anyone so they make it so generic that it's basically offensive to everyone.
It bothers me because it treats the character as an easy punchline, a cheap laugh, and they use him for convenient exposition. Need to explain something? Just have the slow brother ask someone to explain it to him again. I'll be honest… it made my skin crawl, and they certainly aren't the first to do it. When I first heard the premise for "Welcome To Me," I was afraid it might be the same sort of thing, but Shira Piven, working from a script by Elliot Laurence, has directed a beautiful, sad, sweet and funny movie that deals honestly with mental illness while also earning big laughs and offering up some hard truths. And it helps that Kristen Wiig gives the best sustained performance of her entire career in the lead.
Dan Gilroy's been at this for a while now. His first produced screenplay was the largely-forgotten "Freejack," a science-fiction action movie starring Emilio Estevez, Mick Jagger, and a fresh-off-his-Oscar-win Anthony Hopkins in 1992. The other main co-star in the film was Rene Russo, who ended up married to Gilroy after that film, and now, a full 22 years later, she's co-starring in "Nightcrawler," which is Gilroy's move from being a writer to being a writer-director.
If this is any indication of what he can do when he's in full control, then let the era of Dan Gilroy commence.
Disturbing and dark, "Nightcrawler" is many things. It is a remarkable LA movie, something I would not say lightly. I have a lot of problems watching movies that are "about" LA, just like I have a lot of problems watching movies about making movies. I have trouble separating what I know from what I'm watching. It is also a pretty spot on savaging of news media and what runs the business.
TORONTO — You may find this hard to believe, but the last time the world was treated to a movie with Bill Murray in a leading role was 2005’s “Broken Flowers.” The legendary comedic actor has kept busy since then in supporting roles, but much to his fans' chagrin, he hasn’t really been at the center of the action. That has all changed with the new comedy “St. Vincent,” which debuted at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival on Friday night.
[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]
I guess it was news that "The Gambler" was getting a limited release in December to qualify for awards. This has been in the cards for a while now. Maybe it was all about settling on a date (or even some soul-searching at Paramount, which will be releasing a bunch of movies over a six-month stretch). The date: Dec. 19.
Examining Joan Rivers’ late-night legacy
"Can you be a trailblazer when no one has followed your trail?” asks Kevin Fallon. "Joan Rivers didn’t so much as pave the path to becoming the first woman in late-night TV so much as she bushwhacked it. And since her tumultuous navigation to that landmark distinction, that path has famously been all-but closed, with no other woman hosting a nightly talk show on a broadcast network since.”
—Joan Rivers vs. Johnny Carson feud: Who was right?
—Watch Joan Rivers crack one of her final jokes on Aug. 27 — about 12 hours before her medical procedure
—PBS dug up Joan Rivers & Robin Williams together on “Laugh-In” in 1977
—There will indeed be a red carpet at her funeral
—Joan Rivers: Hollywood’s greatest comeback story?
—Andy Cohen had been developing a new show with Joan
—Watch Joan sing with Mister Rogers // Watch Joan "hijack" UK’s “Big Brother"
—Joan’s fashion victims remember her sharpest zingers
Discovery responds to accusation of gender bias from “MythBusters” fans
Petitioners have been outraged by the dumping of Kari Byron, especially since they say it represents the network not supporting women in science. Says Discovery: "We are all big fans of Kari as well as Tory and Grant and are looking for other projects where we can work with them.”
Netflix CEO: "John Oliver, we owe you!”
Reed Hastings credits the “Last Week Tonight” host for the FCC’s support for more high-speed Internet options.
Watch “How I Met Your Mother’s” rosier alternate ending
Here’s the DVD extra you’ve been waiting for.
“Masters of Sex” boss has learned to live with the title she initially hated
Michelle Ashford thought it was too tawdry, but “we've made our peace with it.” She adds: "I personally did not want that title because I felt like it was such a miscue. I felt like, it's the kind of title where you don't want to tell your mother's friends what you're working on. You immediately think, it's going to be some kind of bodice-ripping thing.” PLUS: How “Masters of Sex’s” costume designer brought the show into the ‘60s.
“Boardwalk Empire” was supposed to HBO’s next big thing: What went wrong?
The HBO series, with its $18 million pilot, "always seemed to live in the weird shadow of expectation,” says Darren Franich. "The budget; the presence of ‘Sopranos’ writer Terence Winter; the sense that the show was a built-in-a-laboratory Frankenstein of HBO Golden Age tropes.” But, as it turns out, “Boardwalk Empire” premiered in 2010, a big year for change in TV — change where “Boardwalk Empire” seemed out of place. “In a weird way, the story of 'Boardwalk Empire' is the story of television in the post-television era,” says Franich. “'Boardwalk' arrived at the dawn of a new decade, at a moment when it was clear to everyone that TV was ascendant. But I don’t think anyone could have imagined exactly how TV would ascend.” PLUS: “Boardwalk” has persevered despite the hole in its heart, the 7-year leap has changed the tone of the show, the flashbacks make these episodes sizzle, Terence Winter and Steve Buscemi on the final season, the “Boardwalk” side was always superior to the “Empire” side, meet “Boardwalk’s” master tailor, and what an inglorious exit for such a lavish show.
“Screech” reached out to “Principal Belding” after “The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Movie”
“I literally talked to Dustin (Diamond) yesterday,” Dennis Haskins tells The Huffington Post Live. "I haven’t talked to him in several years but he reached out to me. He made some choices to do some things that he’s dealing with the results of his choices. You got to remember Dustin was 12 and everybody else was 15 and 16. That’s not a natural fit… But I never was aware that it was a huge deal… Dustin thinks different. He acts different. He is different."
“Big Brother” eviction episodes are moving to Wednesday thanks to “Thursday Night Football”
CBS will begin showing NFL games on Thursdays starting next week. PLUS: Julie Chen on “Big Brother” boos, and Jeff Schroeder and Jordan Lloyd got engaged.
“The Strain’s” Nazi has played a Nazi many times before
Richard Sammel estimates he’s been in 22 Nazi roles of the 100 films he’s made, which he attributes to “generational guilt.”
In Lifetime’s "The Brittany Murphy Story,” the only redeeming character is Ashton Kutcher
"The casting is horrendous,” Pilot Viruet says of the film that airs on Saturday, "and the entire movie was shot in 16 days — which definitely shows. I wouldn’t be surprised if the script was also written during that same period. 'The Brittany Murphy Story' does not fall into the so-bad-it’s-good camp, because it is not even remotely entertaining. It’s not ironically good, and it’s not worth the energy to hate-watch.”
“Utopia” has tallied more than 1 million views before its Sunday premiere
The Fox reality show is already an online hit on the livestream. As EW notes, "fans have witnessed fighting, hook-ups, a medical evacuation, and even a duo forming a second splinter camp.”
Frances McDormand: “I have a little grudge” against FX's “Fargo”
"I’ve got no interest right now” in watching the FX series, says McDormand. "I’m so happy for them and think it’s fabulous what’s going on. But I have to say: I have a little grudge. Nobody asked me. They asked Joel and Ethan—rightfully so—but Joel and Ethan don’t own the property in any way, since it’s owned by the studio that created the film. There can’t be another Marge. She’s somethin’ else. I do feel like, more than anything else I’ve done—besides Olive—she’s as much mine as theirs, because nobody knew the place she’d have in the cultural zeitgeist.”
NBC bosses recall how “ER” and the “mediocre-testing” “Friends” started blowing up on TV 20 years ago this month
Execs weren’t sure whether to mess with its Thursday lineup of “Mad About You,” “Wings,” “Seinfeld” and “Frasier.” Plus, there was an opening at 10 pm with “L.A. Law” finished. PLUS: Tracking how “ER” made George Clooney famous, watch awkward network promos from 94-95, 94-95 had the ultimate “Law & Order” lineup.
“The Americans” promotes Lev Gorn, AKA the KGB’s Arkady Ivanovich
The Russian-born actor has appeared in most of episodes of the FX series. PLUS: Gorn will also recur on “NCIS.”
Lily Collins was devastated when "Gossip Girl" rejected her
"I wanted to be in it so badly, I thought at the time it was the end of the world,” says Collins, who was up for one of the lead roles. Now, she says, getting rejected was actually a good thing for her movie career.
Australia bans “The Simpsons’” Duff Beer
Homer’s favorite beer breached alcohol advertising standards: “The association of The Simpsons with the product name and packaging is so strongly entrenched in Australian popular culture that the name and packaging will draw the attention of under 18 year olds,” ruled the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code. PLUS: Why we love “The Simpsons” intro music.
Chris Rock: You’d be shocked by Jerry Seinfeld in my R-rated movie
Rock says of directing his friend in "Top Five”: "I mean, it’s Jerry Seinfeld in an R-rated movie, so it’s kind of like a special effect in itself. He did a little bit of it on Louie this year, where you see mean Jerry, you see realistic Jerry, kind-of-dramatic Jerry. I think Jerry’s going to surprise everybody. Everybody’s really good, but I think Jerry’s going to be like, 'Wow! Never thought I’d see that.’”
“Revenge” unveils its Season 4 poster
“What Goes Around Comes Around.”
“Constantine” brings on DC Comic character Det. Jim Corrigan
Emmett Scanlan will play Corrigan, who becomes The Spectre.
How “My So-Called Life’s” creator crafted a great ending despite an uncertain future
"The job at that moment,” says Winnie Holzman, "was to find a way to do something that was the ending of a season, but also, I was very cognizant that it could be the end of the whole show. It had to be an ending.” PLUS: Delve into Angela Chase’s wardrobe, recalling “My So-Called Life” with Wilson Cruz, and remembering Angela’s voiceovers.
Meredith is the focus of “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Season 11 poster
“The life you save may be your own.
Why is “Homicide: Life on the Street” so underappreciated?
Though it ran for seven seasons, the NBC cop drama was never treated right by NBC.
She’s not a stereotypical Latina: Why Rosie Perez is perfect for “The View”
Perez, who turns 50 on Saturday, is already bold, knowledgeable and famous.
“The Jetsons” almost became an amusement park ride in the ‘60s
The proposed ride, which never made it out of the concept drawing stage, would’ve sent visitors into the futuristic world of the ‘60s cartoon.
ESPN’s NFL music has been scored by the composer for “Iron Man 3”
Brian Tyler, who also scored “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” has created original scores for all the ESPN NFL shows.
“Survivor’s” John Rocker isn’t worried about being remembered for his controversial 1999 Sports Illustrated article
"Not really,” he says. "I see these folks that I’m getting ready to play this game with as very similar to the 13 years of professional baseball that I played, and the teammates that I played with.”
“State of Affairs” vs. “Madam Secretary”: Which new show best channels Hillary Clinton?
"In both pilots,” as Alessandra Stanley points out, "Hillaryesque heroines lobby for risky rescue operations in the Middle East and then watch via satellite as the mission unfolds. Both women defy naysayers who question their foreign policy decisions."
HBO’s Jack Black comedy “The Brink” adds Rob Brydon and Michelle Gomez
“Gavin and Stacey’s” Brydon and “Doctor Who’s” Gomez will play an “eccentric” couple on the geopolitical crisis comedy.
9 big questions “The Leftovers” needs to ask in its season finale
Including: Who is the guy with the truck?
Why did Adam Brody disappear after “The O.C.”?
Will "Seth Cohen" ever be happening again?
How “Sherlock” co-creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat met
Gatiss, who also acts on “Doctor Who” and “Game of Thrones,” says in a Reddit AMA: "Steve and I met at a party about... twenty years ago? And we used to get drunk, and try and pitch bringing back Doctor Who to any BBC executive we could find in the room. That was the basis of our friendship from the beginning! And then we discovered we also love Sherlock Holmes, and the rest is infamy!”
“Blue Bloods” books Rebecca Mader
The “Lost” alum will guest as Erin’s old law school classmate.
How to avoid “Black Best Friend Syndrome”
TV Guide offers tips on how to avoid characters like Winston on “New Girl."
Andrew W.K. to host an online kids’ show
"Meet Me At The Reck” on Maker.TV’s Cartoonium follows the performer and a bunch of L.A. kids as they “celebrate the importance of using your imagination.”
John Oliver has become more of an Internet star than a traditional TV star
Airing on Sunday night with clips released on Monday morning has made “Last Week Tonight" an "ideal table-setter for the Internet, giving writers and editors looking for ideas and content a natural place to start their week,” says Ian Crouch.
Here are TV episodes directed by film directors
From Quentin Tarantino’s “ER” to David Fincher’s “House of Cards.”
Claire Danes has come to terms with her “Homeland” crime face
The actress is now owning her famous facial contortions on the Showtime series.
Starz’s “Project Greenlight”-esque “The Chair” debuts on Saturday
The reality show from “Greenlight’s” Chris Moore and Zachary Quinto has two directors directing the same script.
Here is the music video for Nickelback's rising rock single "Edge of a Revolution."
And you may ask yourself: why weren't there smoke machines in your classrooms growing up?
The Wayne Isham-helmed clip features video footage from cultural and political protests like Egypt's Arab Spring and the Occupy movement, along with the four members of the Canadian band performing in a school. Though, kids at home, please don't toss your desks, generally speaking.
"Edge of a Revolution" is safe for work to watch, but don't listen to it loudly in your office, for reasons including the double use of the naughty-word "sh*t." The song will be featured on the group's next album offering, due sometime this fall. Their last effort was 2011's "Here and Now."
Get your pointy fingers ready.
When crafting a review of a film, one of the last things I ever have on my mind is how something might get pulled or quoted on a poster. It's happened enough times over the years now that the novelty has worn off, and at this point, the one kick that remains is knowing that my endorsement somehow meant enough to the filmmakers or was stated in such a way that it was something they wanted to use to help reach potential viewers.
One of the movies I really, really liked at this year's Cannes Film Festival was one I knew nothing about when I walked in. Didn't know the filmmaker, didn't know the subject matter, and really had no idea what to expect. I ended up thinking "Force Majeure" was one of the best films of the festival, and it's really stuck with me since then.
The film deals with what happens to a family on a ski vacation when, during what looks like an out-of-control avalanche, the father gets up and runs, leaving his family behind. Everyone's fine, but that moment and that decision end up creating a potentially unfixable rift in the family, and the film plays out in a very smart, very unusual way.
You'll get your own chance to see the film soon, and right now, it's playing here at Toronto. When we were asked if we wanted to debut the film's American poster, I was thrilled to do so. The moment on the poster is that moment that everything hinges on in the film, and it seems to me like about as smart a choice for an image as they could have made.
In a year where I've seen a number of strong films about family and how it is defined, "Force Majeure" remains one of the very best of the bunch, and I'll be excited to see how people respond to this one when it hits general release.
"Force Majeure" will be in theaters October 24, 2014.